The Colonial

Why is Santa red?

Jacob Sernoff, Staff Writer

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Santa is a beloved character during this holiday season but does everybody really know his origin? Santa, or Saint Nicholas, originally was thought to be created by the Turks and was known to protect sailors and children. He was valued by all, especially in the Netherlands. When the Dutch were the majority ethnic group in New York City, the idea of Santa made its way across the Atlantic as many Dutch children and families referred to him as “Sinterklaas”. It was not long until writers such as Washington Irving put him in poems and in literature. Santa was not always the large and pudgy old man we seem him as today, in fact, Santa had many varieties. He was first drawn as an elvish-looking man sporting the same, iconic suit, but this time, yellow. This look then evolved into Santa looking less elvish and more of the man we see today except wearing a violet suit. The reason his suit is red is that a now multi-million dollar corporation in Atlanta, Georgia made him this way. This company is called Coca-Cola, a big player in the food and beverage industry.

The red Santa started in the 1920s and he was used to bring in the profits for Coca-Cola. In many advertisements, he was seen doing his traditional gift giving as well as drinking a Coke. This was during a time before the Great Depression when people in the US were making and saving capital and developed finer lifestyles. People began buying prepared foods as new companies like Jell-O, Necco, Polly-O, Quaker Oats, Coca-Cola, and Kraft were prospering from this new wave of consumers buying prepared goods. Advertising was also on a roll as newspapers and the invention of the radio made it easier and inexpensive to spread a company’s name. Although he originally did not sport the red we see him wearing today, the color is now associated with Santa Claus, all thanks to Coca-Cola’s advertising schemes.

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Why is Santa red?